On Friday afternoon I visited the ‘Good Grief, Charlie Brown’ exhibition which is currently on at Somerset House. I went in knowing I liked the Peanuts gang and of course Snoopy, but the exhibition opened my eyes up to so much more than the famous cartoons by Charles Schultz. Schultz really put his heart and soul into creating Peanuts and I think that’s very apparent when walking through the exhibition, reading the texts and viewing his handcrafted cartoons in the scale he originally drew them. So much of Charlie Brown and his friends’ stories derived from Schultz’s own experiences; the introduction of a Snoopy the dog came from Schultz having a pet dog called Spike which he adored.
Peanuts covered such a wide variety of narratives within its comic strips. That of friendship, politics, feminism and mental health. I don’t remember the last time I’d read a Peanuts comic before Friday, it sort of felt as if I was viewing them for the first time. The speech bubbles and words written could be so poignant. Some brought a tear to my eye, and I don’t think I’ve ever read a comic that I could relate to so much, Kirsty and I were sniggering and laughing whilst reading them. From feeling lonely, to not having the energy to stay awake the Peanuts stories may illustrate a group of children but parts of their personalities can be found in you or I along with the people we know.
The exhibition is expansive and I didn’t realise how much of Schultz’s original artwork would be on display which was really incredible to see first-hand. I loved that there was a screening room filled with giant beanbags to watch the Peanuts cartoon. There are also tables full of 1970s Snoopy and Charlie Brown Peanuts comic books which you’re able to sit down and read. The exhibition has been laid out in such a way that it’s interactive and bursting with imagery and artwork but it doesn’t feel overwhelming.
The final room of the exhibit hold two gallery walls which you are invited to add your own artwork to. They’ve even provided light boxes with stencils of the Peanuts characters for you to trace and create your own comic, such a lovely idea if you’re bringing little ones along. Whilst I was there the table was full of adults tracing Snoopys and Woodstocks, it’s so wonderful to see adults embracing their childish sides once in a while. The whole exhibit brought up a feeling of nostalgia for me and made me fall in love with the Peanuts franchise even more so than I thought I would. This is the first large Peanuts exhibition to be held outside of the US, which not only surprises me but makes the attention to detail in compiling this exhibit all the more special for visitors.
It’s been on since October and is running until 3rd March, as it’s now in its final weeks I would highly recommend booking a ticket asap! Also if you use the discount code ‘Travelzoo’ you can get tickets for £9 instead of £14, I spotted the code on the lovely illustrators Linzie Hunters Instagram when she visited. I really couldn’t recommend it enough, if you have even the slightest fondness of Peanuts and Charles Schultz’s creations you need to book yourself a ticket before it’s over. I’d also advise if possible to take your time, there’s a lot to see and read so you don’t want to pressure yourself to miss out on anything. Somerset house advises the exhibition takes an average of ninety minutes. However I was there for over two hours and could have easily stayed longer. Let me know if you manage to visit and what you thought of the exhibition, who’s your favourite Peanuts character and why? Mine might have to either be Charlie Brown, for his determination to keep going even when he’s put down, or Snoopy, for always giving things a go!